My loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, what happens now?

Everyone arrested for a felony within Fulton County will be taken to the Fulton County Jail or Rice Street to be booked in. After someone is booked, they will be scheduled for First Appearance, typically the next day. The purpose of First Appearance is to inform you of the charges and set a bond. First Appearance is heard by a Magistrate Court judge.

There are four factors that the judge will consider when setting or denying a bond. The factors are that the accused 1) is not a risk of fleeing the jurisdiction or failing to appear in court, 2) doesn’t pose a significant danger to any person or the community, 3) isn’t a risk of committing a new felony, and 4) is not a threat to intimidate witnesses or otherwise obstruct justice. The judge will also take the person’s criminal history, any history of failing to appear in court, and the nature of the allegations into account when considering bond. Bond may be denied based on the type of charge. There are certain crimes – e.g. murder, armed robbery, sex crimes, etc. – that can only be heard by a Superior Court judge.

If bond was denied and your loved one is still incarcerated, they are entitled to a preliminary or probable cause hearing. This is when the State has to bring witnesses to prove the allegations by a probable cause standard or that there is a reasonable belief that the accused committed the alleged act. It is very important to have an experienced advocate to cross-examine and challenge the State’s witnesses and evidence.

If your loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, please give us a call at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

How do I get out of the Fulton County Jail?

You are in handcuffs and headed to the Fulton County Jail. You want to get out as soon as possible. Your loved ones are in a panic to find a lawyer to help get a bond set. What do you do?

First, do not make any statements to the police while you are being transported to the Fulton County Jail.

Second, do not make any statements about the facts of your case to anyone at the Fulton County Jail. This is not the time to plead your innocence. Your sole focus should be on getting out on bond.

If you are arrested on a misdemeanor, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 9am.

If you are arrested on a felony, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 11am.

Your loved ones should plan on going to the Fulton County jail about 30 minutes prior to court starting. Although most of the first appearance hearings will be conducted by zoom.

The Fulton County jail is located at 901 Rice Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318.

The Fulton County Judge is required to consider four factors when setting a bond.

  1. Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;
  2. Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;
  3. Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial;
  4. Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

Some crimes must go before a Superior Court judge in order to have a bond set. If you are charged with any of these specific crimes in Fulton County then the Magistrate Judge cannot set a bond at your initial court appearance. All that will happen at this appearance, is the judge will read the warrants to you and reset your case.

The crimes that are only bondable by a Superior Court judge are as follows:

  1. Treason
  2. Murder
  3. Rape
  4. Aggravated Sodomy
  5. Armed Robbery
  6. Aircraft hijacking and hijacking a motor vehicle
  7. Aggravated Child Molestation
  8. Aggravated Sexual Battery
  9. Manufacturing, distributing, delivering, dispensing, administering, or selling any controlled substance classified under Code Section 16-13-25 as Schedule 1 or under Code Section 16-13-26 as Schedule II
  10. Violating Code Section 16-13-31 or 16-13-31.1
  11. Kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary if the person, at the time of the alleged kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary, had been previously convicted of, was on probation or parole with respect to, or was on bail for kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, burglary, or one or more of the offenses listed above.
  12. Aggravated Stalking

For any of these crimes that are bondable only by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, you will get a court date that will be in the Fulton County Courthouse. The Fulton County Courthouse is located at 185 Central Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. These court dates start at 9:30am. As of now, most of these hearings are held on zoom.

There are several types of bonds available for your case.

  1. Released to Pretrial Services: Fulton County will sometimes release people on their own recognizance which means that you do not have to put up any money. You will be monitored by Fulton County Pretrial Services. You will have to report to Pretrial Services until your case gets resolved in court.
  2. Cash Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to pay a cash bond. This means that you pay the entire bond yourself. The benefit to this bond is that it is refundable to you once you resolve your case.
  3. Property Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to post a property bond. In order to post a property bond, you would need to speak to the Fulton Sheriff’s office. They generally will require a warranty deed, a current tax statement showing the property’s fair market value as well as a statement showing all taxes are current. You generally need double the bond amount in equity.
  4. Bail Bondsman: The final option is to call a bonding company. You will pay between 10% – 15% of the total bond to the bonding company. The bonding company will then post the entire bond and you will be released. This 10% – 15% is non-refundable. The Fulton County jail will provide you with a list of approved bonding companies.

If you or your loved one is arrested and taken to the Fulton County jail, please contact us any time and we can assist you in helping get a bond set.

Our office is located in downtown Atlanta at 100 Peachtree Street, Suite 2060, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Feel free to call us at 404-581-0999 anytime day or night. Also, please go to our website at

Georgia Criminal Law – Possession of Tools

Georgia law criminalizes the possession of tools for the commission of a crime. In fact, it is a felony offense. Not all tools in your possession will result in criminal charges. The law states it is unlawful to possession any tool, explosive, or device commonly used in burglary, theft, or another crime, with the intent to make use thereof in the commission of a crime.

Examples of tools that can result in criminal charges are crowbars, hammers, and glass break devices as these are all commonly used in burglaries and thefts. You could be arrested if found looking inside someone’s car windows late at night with a glass break tool in your hand, even if there is no theft. However, not only tools associated with burglary are criminalized.  For example, we routinely see pipes and scales charged as Possession of Tools, as these items are used to commit crimes of Possession of Drugs. In these instances, the rule of Lenity applies, which is discussed below under the Defenses section

What is the sentence for Possession of Tools in Georgia?

The sentence for Possession of Tools is a 1 to 5 year imprisonment sentence. (See O.C.G.A. § 16-7-20). Possession of tools is a felony offense, which means it is sentenced more harshly than misdemeanors. Felonies can take away your civil rights moving forward and can make finding employment very difficult. For example, if you are convicted of Possession of Tools, you immediately lose your right to vote and your ability to carry a firearm.

What are Possible Defenses to Possession of Tools in Georgia?

First, the mere possession of a common instrument is not a crime. A screw driver can be used to commit crimes, but it can also be used for numerous other lawful purposes. The same goes with wire cutters, flashlights, and gloves. These items are commonly used for all sorts of lawful and legitimate activities. The State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there was intent to use the tool to commit a crime. It is an incredibly high standard, especially since tools are used for so many other purposes.

Additionally, any time contraband is found, a thorough investigation must be conducted by a criminal defense attorney very quickly after arrest, into whether or not a valid, lawful, and constitutional search had occurred. We all have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. An officer cannot search your car without probable cause of a crime occurring, and then later charge you with a felony after finding a tool common in burglaries. In this instance, the tools found could be suppressed, and the case subsequently dismissed.

Other defenses fall on whether or not the tool is one that is commonly used for the commission of the crime. The State must not only prove that the accused actually possessed a tool, but the tool must be one that is commonly used to commit crimes. For example, Georgia law has held that body armor is not a tool commonly used in armed robbery, and thus there is insufficient evidence to show proof Possession of Tools in that situation. Georgia law has also held a two-by-four was not a tool for purposes of this statute in an Armed Robbery case for the same reason: it is not a device commonly used to commit that crime.

The rule of lenity may also apply in felony Possession of Tools cases. This means that even if you are charged with a felony, Georgia law may require you be given a misdemeanor sentence. For example, if the conduct alleged falls within both felony Possession of Tools and misdemeanor Possession of Drug Related Object, then the Lenity rule requires that person be subject to misdemeanor penalties.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for POSSESSION OF TOOLS in the State of Georgia, W. Scott Smith is here to offer a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Robbery v. Theft by Shoplifting

My last two robbery blogs discussed robbery by force and robbery by sudden snatching. Both contemplate the taking of someone’s property from their person or immediate presence. Moreover, both require that the victim be aware of the theft before it’s completed. The main difference, of course, is one does not require force, aka snatching.

But what about robbery by force or sudden snatching in a retail business?

I once represented someone accused of robbery by force for taking a case of beer from the refrigerator of a gas station without paying for it. The gas station employees attempted to stop my client from taking the beer. They blocked the exit and tried to pry the beer from his hand. With the case of beer tucked under one arm, he used the other to hit and push both employees to the ground. He then walked out of the store with the beer and drove away.

Robbery or Shoplifting?

I recall initially thinking this is shoplifting, not robbery. But I could not have been more wrong. First, let’s think about immediate presence. Like I mentioned in my last blog, immediate presence is not limited to “within arm’s length” or “facing the victim”. There is case law stating property is within the immediate presence of a shop keeper if it’s within the retail space (see Sweet v. State, 304 Ga.App. 474, 697 S.E.2d 246 (2010)).

As I’ve discussed before, the shopkeepers must be aware of the taking before it is complete. In my beer case, the beer was taken from the shopkeeper’s immediate presence (because it was in their retail space) AND they were aware of the taking before it was complete. Finally, my client used force to fend off the shopkeepers and complete the taking of the beer. The elements of robbery by force were all checked off.

A Different Order of Events

Now, let’s pretend the shopkeeper did not realize he was stealing the beer until the very moment he walked out the store exit? Theft by taking or shoplifting? I think a prosecutor in this scenario could make an argument for theft by sudden snatching because the shopkeeper is aware of the theft before it’s complete and property was removed from the shopkeeper’s immediate presence.

If you or someone you know has been charged with robbery contact our office today for a free consultation.

Robbery by Force

Our last robbery blog discussed robbery by sudden snatching, and it is slightly different than robbery by force. Sudden snatching is when an offender is alleged to have stolen something from someone’s person or immediate presence without use of force or threat or intimidation. A key element of this crime is that the victim is aware of the theft before it’s complete.

What is Robbery by Force?

Robbery by force is the same except, of course, the offender uses force to steal something from another’s person or immediate presence. Force doesn’t have to be a violent act causing injury, per se. Think about it as any amount of force beyond snatching, usually resulting when the victim attempts to stop the offender from stealing their property and the offender responds with physical force.

What is Immediate Presence?

Let’s talk about “immediate presence”. How far does it extend? In Georgia, immediate presence is not limited to within arm’s length or facing the victim. Georgia case law seems to set the standard that so long as property is within the victim’s sight at the time of the robbery, it’s within their immediate presence. (See Perkins v. State, 256 Ga.App. 449, 568 S.E. 2d (2002) and Short v. State, 276 Ga. App 340, 623 S.E. 2d 195 (2005).

If you or someone you know has been charged with robbery contact our office today for a free consultation.

Robbery by Sudden Snatching

Robbery or Burglary?

It is not uncommon for people to use “robbery” and “burglary” interchangeably. For example, a person enters their home to discovery it’s been ransacked. They might exclaim, “I’ve been robbed!” That exclamation is inaccurate under Georgia law. In Georgia, that person is a victim of burglary, not robbery, because Georgia defines burglary as entering, or remaining in, a building without authority with the intent to commit a felony.

Robbery on the other hand contemplates taking property from the person or immediate presence of another with intent to commit theft. There are three types of robbery in Georgia: robbery by force, intimidation or threat of violence, and sudden snatching. I will review all three flavors in future blog posts, but for now let’s review sudden snatching.

Robbery by Snatching Scenario

When I think of robbery by sudden snatching, I picture an elderly woman walking along a city sidewalk with her purse. Suddenly, her purse is snatched off her shoulder by a swift offender. The offender does not use any force to take the purse from her; he merely snatches it off her person.

The lack of force employed to secure the purse highlights a key distinction between robbery by force and sudden snatching. If the elderly woman resisted and the offender used force by, say, pushing her to the ground to take her purse, then the offender committed robbery by force, not sudden snatching. Sudden snatching literally means taking the purse without any use of force.

A Key Distinction

Another key element of robbery by sudden snatching is that the victim must be conscious of the theft before it is completed. Say the elderly woman walking down the street does not realize the offender snatched her purse from her person, and only realizes her purse is missing when she attempts to pay the fee at her dry cleaners later that afternoon. As the offender’s attorney, I would argue the offender could not be prosecuted for robbery by sudden snatching because the victim was not aware of the theft when it happened. The offender may be guilty of theft by taking (because theft by taking does not require the victim to be conscious of the theft before it is completed), but he is not guilty of robbery by sudden snatching.

If you or someone you know has been charged with robbery contact our office today for a free consultation. We will be happy to walk through your goals and inform you of the various defenses that can be implemented for your case.

by Sarah Armstrong